Of the many silly terms people have come up with in recent years, I think the ‘portfolio career’ is one of the silly ones. However, I can’t argue with the concept because I know lots of writers who do have multiple sources of income.
The strength of this approach is that, hopefully, some of the jobs in the mix hit closer to writerly passions than a normal full-time day job, and there’s the flexibility of hours and how many jobs are taken on at any one time.
The downsides are… well actually pretty much the same as the strengths. That flexibility tends to lead to regular over-commitment. The writerly passions tend to represent very time-consuming jobs.
What I notice most is that this portfolio approach, while rarely dull and quite a bit more free than a single occupation just doesn’t translate to more writing time. It can, and does for periods of time, but it’s not actually a goes-hand-in-hand type deal.
For me the old idea of a single full-time job is – as long as the hours are the hours and don’t overflow – more restful and more predictable. Yet I too am attracted by the idea of doing more than just one job.